OPINION: Rewind…and review

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Smart move, council.

The elected body walked back, or at least is taking a step back to review, changes it made to development charges in Chatham-Kent in early August.

At that time, all but two councillors rubberstamped changes in the charge structure that slapped an additional $17,316 fee onto the construction of a typical single-family home.

The charges are intended to help fund the cost of expansion within the municipality, covering infrastructure costs.

The new fees went into effect the next day, and impacted homes that were still under construction, including ones people had committed to purchase at a previously established price.

That left homebuilders and realtors irate. They understood the concept of the development charges, but questioned the timing and implementation.

For starters, the economy was slowing down, and so was the real estate market locally. Add in rising interest rates and suddenly new home builds were to cost prospective buyers an additional eight or nine per cent.

Maple City Homes’ Robb Nelson said the concept behind the charges was based on obsolete projections – back from the height of the real estate boom in Chatham-Kent.

This would only serve to throw a wrench into the gears of local home construction.

Real estate agents said deals that were previously agreed upon were in danger of suddenly falling through.

On top of that, realtors and homebuilders said they weren’t even consulted on the charges in the weeks prior to the matter coming before council.

The charges went through, vested groups rebelled, and the next thing we know, the municipality was facing half a dozen appeals.

Council smartly blinked, and decided at its Sept. 26 meeting to hold off and let municipal staff meet with stakeholders before returning to council in 90 days with new recommendations.

With the Chatham-Kent Association of Realtors and the C-K Homebuilders agreeing charges are warranted, surely there is middle ground, and grandfathering options available for people who have already committed to purchase.

Perhaps bringing in the charges in stages makes sense as well.

We’ll see sometime in the next three months.

 

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